Have Canon and Nikon Lost Their Minds?

Have Canon and Nikon Lost Their Minds?

2018 has been quite a year for new equipment releases. We’ve seen Sony’s impressive a7 III, the Nikon Z6/7, and now the Canon EOS R, among many others. Specifically, these new mirrorless cameras continue to bring up one question for me, and that is: have we lost our minds?

I could get into some other pieces of equipment with this article, but I am going to focus on the new mirrorless announcements, because they seem, well, ridiculous to me. I don’t really have any issue with the cameras; they look wonderful and have some nice features. I’m even a little interested in the Z6 myself. However, both the Nikon and Canon cameras have one flaw that I find hard to overlook: the lenses.

For years, I worked at a camera store and we heard our fair share of gossip and always talked about what we thought of new products. Many months ago, I remember all of us agreeing on one thing: it would be ridiculous for Canon and Nikon to use the EF and F mounts (respectively) on their full frame mirrorless cameras, because the lens sizes would simply not be functional on a smaller camera body. Then, the announcements came and we see that they both opted for a new lens mount, which is good. Then, they both released absolutely behemoth lenses for the system for seemingly no other reason than because they could. The Noct for the Z6/7 and the 28-70mm f/2 are quite frankly, absurd.

Look, I get it. A 28-70mm f/2 sounds awesome on paper. So does a 58mm f/0.95. But, when the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 is 3.4 inches long, and the Noct is at least double the length, if not longer (judging by photos) and who knows how much heavier, do we really care about f/0.95? Probably not. As one of my former coworkers would always say: “if you need that blurry of a background for your photo to be interesting, the gear is not the problem.” I understand that some people like journalists or sports photographers benefit from having fast glass that lets them shoot in poorly lit locations, but not when it’s massive, manual focus, and costs roughly double their camera body. It seems more like bragging rights for Nikon. The same can be said about the 28-70mm f/2 from Canon for their new EOS R, although I see slightly more reason for a lens like that. These large lens mounts are continually bragged about for their ability to enable smaller lenses with wider apertures and better optical performance. Why not just make a 24-70mm f/2.8 that is small and comfortable unlike Sony’s beastly G Master? That certainly would have given Canon an edge for many photographers who find a 24-70mm to be their staple lens. The 28-70mm f/2 RF lens is over an inch longer than the EF 24-70mm f/2.8. That’s problematic.

I’m not faulting any one manufacturer; in fact, I think photographers themselves are to blame to some extent. For years, people have wondered about the possibility of an f/2 zoom like the 28-70mm RF without actually considering if there is a need for it. Sadly, Canon and Nikon listened and decided to make innovations in the area we need it least: lenses. I think this was an opportunity for both Canon and Nikon to make some major improvements to their video performance, dynamic range, or low light performance. Instead, these new cameras feel like excuses for Canon and Nikon to come out with their own “Otus” lenses — lenses that are not needed, but only dreamed of. I believe both manufacturers missed the mark by more or less repackaging their staple full frame cameras and eschewed opportunity for real innovation and change. I still think Fuji and Sony will still be the mirrorless staples in the years to come.

As a final disclaimer, I like mirrorless cameras quite a bit. I have an X-T2 that I use more frequently than my Nikon DSLRs. As stated early in the article, I even have my eye on the Z6, but only for the fact that it is a far smaller alternative to my D800/D700 and is still full frame with decent lens choices. Nikon made a great call with their initial lens lineup for the Z system: they’re small, light, and still functional (sans Noct). My issue with both Canon and Nikon is that these cameras don’t really do much that the D850, D750, and 5D Mark IV don’t already do. They’re just smaller and lighter. And both companies seemed to use them as an excuse to launch a new sort of competition between the brands of who can make the most absurd lens rather than really push boundaries of useful performance that will benefit the end user: us.

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L S's picture

this does not compute.

Rob Davis's picture

No? Think of what you can do with a dual-lens iPhone right now. Consider that those depth and lighting effects are only going to get better over time and eventually someone will put them in a real camera.

Sony Northrup's picture

I don't think so. You can always "compute" a RAW photo after taking it in Lightroom or Photoshop. Those fake blur effects, oversharpening and oversaturating and unrealistic HDR effects of smartphones are overrated. Processing a RAW always will give the best results.

Mike Stern's picture

Spencer, you lost me in the second paragraph already.
“...However, both the Nikon and Canon cameras have one flaw that I find hard to overlook: the lenses”

Why do you call this a flaw? This was expected. It’s a new system and will require new lenses. It’s a matter of time. How many of us complained about Sony system a few years ago for the same situation. Look at their lens line up. It’s impressive. Today, a new system not having a lens line up is not a flaw.

In the big picture there is nothing ridiculous. Some brands jumped on the mirrorless wagon earlier than others. Some tried but failed, some quit, some succeeded. It was unavoidable for CaNikon to make the move. Mirrorless is the future of photography. They are later than others a little. And will face similar challenges as Sony and Fuji did.
Big brands know what they are doing. They all have capable men in their company.

I don’t know what’s the fuss about all that in this whole article. Things are moving on an expected track. And soon Sony releases a7siii. Excitement rising.

Charles Metivier's picture

He wasn't complaining about the lens line up, he was complaining about the size/weight of a couple of lenses.

Jose Soriano's picture

This article is a waste of time. There is always a complain, photography blogs were more useful a couple of years ago.

Geir Anders Rybakken Ørslien's picture

I just LOVE the fact that I can now work with a mirrorless full frame body that will work flawlessly with all my EF lenses, a camera that will shoot without a sound if needed, that will show me the final image with WB and exposure in the viewfinder, that will focus 100% accurately on the sensor with no need for the microadjustments or calibrations, with eye AF for the 85/1.4 portraits, while being a little bit lighter and smaller than my 5D MkIV and my 5D MkIII.

The EOS R gives me all I need for my reportage work. I understand that others had bigger expectations, but as a simple guy doing photography for a living, I'm good. Looking forward to the pro model coming up later, of course.

Charles Metivier's picture

I didn't realize that the EOS R had eye AF

Penny Fan's picture

I am particularly tired of seeing people saying, Sony mirrorless cameras have bad ergo, they need to have size increased. C'mon, you guys can always add all sort of grips to increase the size and make them more comfortable if you need, but if they came out with bigger cameras, there is no way we can take part off the camera if we preferred small.

Pat McEntee's picture

Thursday would be so boring if I didn't see at least one Canon bashing article somewhere.

L S's picture

I don't mind the occasional fancy optic. But if they continue to do it at the expense of practical and economical designs more suited to the general working professional as well as enthusiast, it will not be long before sony spanks them yet again. Overall Nikon and canon should (and to a great degree are) remain committed to the "boring" lens lineup that actually makes up the bulk of sales.

clearly the single stop light gain and the loss of on the wide end make the 28-70 f/2 far too niche at nearly 3k versus the more affordable (and wider) "slow" f2.8 lens. Likewise unless you're doing astrophotography or nocturnal landscapes, manually focusing a massive optic like the NOCT isn't going to be that popular. But at the core of all this lies simply having something to grab headlines from sony. Both needed not a lens that sony cannot make, but a lens that sony does not already have, at least natively.

However, such "wins" however will be short lived. We all know sigma will make the same identical f/2 zoom for ALL systems and there are quite a few f0.95 or faster lenses out there, even like the Mitakon for sony (yes, it is full MF and of cheap optical tradeoffs at its low price point). So in the end they have no choice but to go for more mundane wins like ensuring their system is well stocked with 1.8 primes, f2.8 and f4 zooms, and off course, don't forget the evil variable zooms f3.5-5.6

vik .'s picture

They could've crippled the cameras in so many ways but dual card slots are sacred :)

michaeljin's picture

In short, yes, they've lost their minds, but not for the reasons that you describe.

Thomas H's picture

Is this real, yet another hysteric article title at Fstoppers?

Or is it just a typo, the real title is "My thoughts about Nikon's and Canon's lens choices".

How is it different to Canon's introduction of FE mount and abandoning its entire FD base back than in the 80ties? We cannot first contribute to a planetary hype about Full Frame Mirrorless and than complain that companies deliver to the market what user want. It has to start with a few native lenses by its nature. There is no pleasing everyone, as it seems. And once the dogs are out, they just will never stop barking.

michaeljin's picture

No, there is no pleasing everyone. Lots of people want tiny cameras suitable for infant hands. Others want gigantic DSLR-sized mirrorless cameras that use the same exact registration distance as the current DSLR's (therefore, same mount and lenses). There's no way to really satisfy all parties here... at least not with a single line of bodies.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to see Canon or Nikon release essentially a DSLR with the mirror ripped out and an EVF installed to see how well the market would take it.

bert duarte's picture

I'll stick To my Sony. It takes my pictures for me.soi can sit at home and complain

Brook Brown's picture

The author clearly does not understand the significance off mirrorless technology. It is not an attempt to make cameras and lenses smaller and lighter; it's the next major step in the evolution from film to digital. This step enables technological advancements that were not possible with SLR's. MIRRORS AND PENTAPRISMS ARE OBSOLETE! Accept it.

Stephen Zielinski's picture

This! Of all the talk I've read about mirrorless cameras, you are the first person I've encounterd who has stated the obvious point: Mirrorless camera technology is a consequence following from the actual revolution in camera technology. That revolution occured when sensors replaced film. Mirrors are obsolete. But mirrored cameras will remain in the market for years to come. They'll just not progress much at all.

Nacona Nix's picture

This post has it exactly wrong. The lens selection (Canon's, especially) should give devotees to both brands some reason for excitement.

The bodies... the specs... the feature sets (or lack thereof)... guuuuuh. So much potential, and yet so much fail.

Terry Poe's picture

While I share your disappointment with size, weight and price of Canon R lenses it should be said that from Canon's corporate point of view it's a brilliant marketing move targeting high-profit margin segment - professionals and purists.

Actually budget-weight-size-conscious photographers are going to win too, competition is finally there and Fujifilm, Sony and Olympus will immediately exploit Canikon weaknesses in product line.

Nikon looks more promising now, demonstrating true innovation. Now Canon have 4 mounts and four lines of lenses which is a mess. EF-M born with ill-conceived half-ass approach is probably will die first.

John Skinner's picture

To people in this game for long periods of time, or, just common sense. They tend not to get too darn excited about these new release / new lines of products from anyone anymore.

We've seen this now since about 2005 when they decided digital was going to take off and make money. Back in the day, it's was 2 - 3 years between body releases and even then, they were minor due to limitations of film. But it seems every week some guy on a 'gofundme' or some company is setting out into the world another product or idea and declared it a game changer when really? It's very much like what we're already using. It's to the point of nausea now. Even going to to the lengths of spoiler videos and partial reveals.

And when the reality doesn't meet expectations (and it rarely does), people go off on rants and espouse their huge disappointment in the offering.

90% of the people on these forums and message boards don't make a living doing this. It's all about having the latest & greatest stuff and a whole lot of G A S. If you have kit and good glass. Use It. You're not going to see the second coming in the form of a camera body anytime soon.

Matt Murray's picture

Thomas Heaton did a video about weight saving. It's far cheaper to save more weight for less by replacing other stuff that you pack in your bag than it is to buy new camera gear. If weight is an issue, get fitter, doesn't make the product bad. I also find if something is too light, it feels cheap.

Wonder Woman's picture

They haven't lost their minds, you prosumer internet mouths have.

Bob Mata's picture

Nikon Z & Canon R are classified as DSLC (Digital Single Lens Camera$. It is a Mirrorless but not intend to be light weight cameras. Mirrorless fever is contagious. Just my opinion.

olivier borgognon's picture

I switched to Fuji with the X-H1 and now the X-T3 on which i did a live hardcore 1 week test during a cycling race through the french alps, and I can't agree with you more. Light, efficient, powerful, fast, compact, and just robust for the job.

https://www.olivierborgognon.com/test-extreme-du-fuji-x-t3/ (google translate works wonders for english version apart from a couple of technical terms where it goes wonky).

I think at this stage (and maybe it might change) Sony and Fuji have a clear advantage and have their users in mind. Nikon and Canon are trying to compose with their lack of customer care in their product evolutions from the past let's say 10 years or not far off... by coming out with a mirrorless and sets of lenses which are clearly not hitting the mark.

I was looking forward to seeing what canon would come out with, and did not get rid of all my gear, albeit it being in a box since march this year, living with 1 body for quite a while, but the evaluation is severe in my humble opinion... they are not client focused, and have lost their WHY in the battle for market shares, it goes beyond lenses or camera bodies.

Michael Coen's picture

This article reminds me of another article I read on PetaPixel about how the mirrorless camera was the death knell for Sony – insofar as one of the primary arguments against FF mirrorless cameras seem to operate on the idea that mirrorless = lighter, therefore big lenses don't make sense.

The point of mirrorless isn't just that it boasts being thinner and lighter than their DSLR predecessors. Having fewer moving parts is another one of their advantages. If smaller and lighter are a big concern, APS-C cameras are probably the way to go since they tend to be smaller and have lighter lenses that are relatively proportional to the body size / weight of the camera in most cases.

If you want a FF camera with decent lenses, they're going to be heavy.

Nick B's picture

As Kai Wong would put it, blame it on the bokeh whores. It will be a success though because the main advantages of a mirrorless are the viewfinder and amazing autofocus, not the weight. In fact Thomas Heaton made a video on that : he wanted to switch to Fuji, was one click away to buy body and lenses, but finally realised he would only gain 200g compared to his Canon dslr and lenses.

Francisco Eduardo de Camargo's picture

Okay you can make amazing photos with your DSLR as well as with a Mirrorless. What is Mirrorless cameras all about? Of possibilities of advancing with better technologies. It has nothing to do with size ...

Hideto Shimizu's picture

Intriguing title, shallow argument.

oliver ahrndt's picture

The Canon being more a less a mirrorless 5D Mark IV ist exactly what i wanted. Perfect MP count. Video features are enough for me. Comes with a good adapter. But for me the most important thing is the ergonomics. Having owned the Sony A7RII and looking at the Nikon being about the same size, I cant wait to try the Canon as it seems to be a bit bigger and beefier. Im not sure if Im going to get the EOS R because only one card slot, but in my opinion Canon did it the best.

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